A distinguished former federal prosecutor and regulator, Bill Stellmach previously served as head of the Fraud Section of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Criminal Division and is now a partner in the Litigation Department and Co-Chair of the Firm’s White-Collar Defense Group. Drawing on a wide range of experience, his practice focuses on white-collar criminal defense, regulatory enforcement and internal investigations. Bill regularly represents a broad range of companies, financial institutions and their executives in matters involving securities fraud, foreign bribery, sanctions, antitrust, cybersecurity, insider trading and money laundering. He also has extensive experience representing corporations and individuals outside the United States in responding to inquiries and investigations. In 2020, Bill was among those recognized for the award for “Most Impressive Investigations Practice of the Year” by Global Investigations Review, which recognizes “the most outstanding firms, lawyers and cases from the past year” in the area of investigations.
Bill is also an accomplished courtroom advocate, and has tried numerous white-collar federal cases to verdict. For his role as a prosecutor in winning a landmark $8 billion fraud trial, the U.S. Justice Department awarded him its prestigious John Marshall Award for Trial of Litigation. He also writes and lectures extensively on issues related to white-collar criminal defense and regulatory enforcement. Most recently Legal 500 2019 recommended Bill in Corporate Investigations and White-Collar Criminal Defense, describing him as “stellar.”
A representative sample of his matters includes:
Anti-corruption and FCPA
- Obtained declinations from both the SEC and DOJ in an FCPA investigation of a U.S. issuer for allegations involving operations in China.
- Advised a U.S. issuer in an investigation by DOJ into gifts, travel and entertainment for foreign officials, resulting in a declination by DOJ.
- Represented multiple managers and senior executives at an Indian company in a DOJ investigation, successfully avoiding any charges against the client or their employer. The matter entailed extensive coordination with local counsel in navigating potential enforcement by Indian authorities.
- Represented sovereign foreign government in FCPA and money laundering investigation alleging misconduct by the client's officials.
- Regularly advise regarding M&A due diligence, design and evaluate compliance programs, and assist in developing risk management procedures.
- Represented a foreign bank under a consent order with the New York State Department of Financial Services. The engagement entailed remediation of sanctions, AML and transaction monitoring issues, as well as voluntary self-disclosures to OFAC for apparent sanctions violations and coordinating responses to an investigation by the Federal Reserve Board. No additional enforcement actions were initiated, and we successfully terminated the monitorship imposed by DFS.
- Advise global manufacturing client regarding Helms Burton issues, including engagement with the U.S. Department of State and civil litigation in the Southern District of Florida by claimants alleging our client had “trafficked” in expropriated property.
- Represented the former Chief Compliance Officer at a European financial institution in an investigation by the DOJ, SEC, DFS and Manhattan DA's Office. No charges were brought against the client by any agency.
- Represented the former head of transaction monitoring at a foreign bank under investigation by DOJ and banking authorities. The bank forfeited its charter for sanctions-related conduct, but our client was not charged or disciplined.
- Regularly counsel financial institutions and companies on sanctions related issues.
Securities, Commodities and Other Financial Fraud
- Represented a global financial institution in SEC and FINRA investigations into valuation practices for certain bonds which was closed without any action against the client or any employees.
- Represent a public company in an SEC investigation into earnings guidance revisions which resulted in a significant stock drop.
- Represent foreign company in resolving allegations by a sovereign wealth fund investor of systemic workplace abuses and human rights issues, advising on environmental, social and governance matters.
- Obtained closure of an SEC investigation arising from whistleblower claims of internal controls violations based on self-dealing by senior executives in a financial services company.
- Represented a publicly-traded pharmaceutical company in a joint DOJ/SEC investigation involving allegations of fraud on the market and false FDA filings, and related shareholder litigation. Obtained a declination from DOJ against the company and its employees, and negotiated a favorable SEC resolution which enabled the company to continue operations and resulted in no bars against any of its officers.
- Represented client in Congressional investigation concerning PPP funds, successfully avoiding any officers or employees from being called to testify.
- Represented a global financial institution in a FINRA investigation into the violation of trading thresholds by a London trader and a potential failure to supervise by the desk heads. No enforcement action was taken against the bank or any employees
- Represented a privately-held payment services company in a DOJ investigation into accounting fraud. No charges were brought against the company or senior management.
- Conducted internal investigation for a publicly-traded company into whistleblower allegations of procurement fraud. On the eve of a public filing, the allegations were disproved in the course of an intense ten-day investigation involving interviews of a half-dozen employees, and the review of thousands of emails and documents located overseas.
- Regularly represent registrants and issuers in SEC, FINRA and other regulatory matters, including examinations.
Market Integrity and Competition
- Advised entertainment company in an investigation by the Antitrust Division at DOJ into competition issues arising from merger. The Antitrust Division did not bring charges and the merger was approved.
- Represented a London-based bond trader in an investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK, and DOJ and the SEC in the U.S. into competition related conduct. No charges were filed by any agency.
During his tenure at the DOJ, Bill conducted and oversaw some of the most important domestic and international investigations and prosecutions. As Acting Chief of the Fraud Section, he had extensive responsibility for the Justice Department’s corporate enforcement program, including coordination with U.S. regulatory agencies and foreign authorities around the globe.
In that role, Bill supervised all criminal enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, including reviewing and approving all corporate and individual charging decisions, and coordinating with foreign enforcement partners. In addition, he also was responsible for national priority investigations involving securities and commodities fraud, sanctions violations, healthcare fraud, and government procurement. Bill regularly assessed the strength of corporate compliance programs, the rigor of internal investigations, and the quality of corporate self-disclosures, cooperation and remediation in evaluating charging decisions against numerous financial institutions and companies during his tenure.
Bill also personally conducted several of the most critical government investigations in recent memory, including global financial institutions for alleged manipulation of the LIBOR benchmark and foreign exchange markets. For his contributions and role in the LIBOR investigation, Bill was recognized with the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service. He was also co-lead trial counsel in the successful prosecution of Allan Stanford for an $8 billion cross-border securities fraud and the largest criminal asset forfeiture trial to date.
Before joining the Fraud Section, Bill served as Senior Counsel in the Division of Enforcement at the SEC, where he led an investigation into the allocation of IPO shares which resulted in a then-record settlement, and later eight years as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, including five years as a member of that office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force. Bill has investigated and prosecuted the full spectrum of complex matters, and established a reputation as a skilled courtroom advocate in trials involving securities fraud, market misconduct, bankruptcy fraud and criminal copyright infringement.
At the Firm, Bill has marshaled his unusual depth and breadth of experience on behalf of clients, developing a reputation as an innovative problem solver, a skilled negotiator and persuasive advocate. In particular, he has a proven track record for effectively managing investigations and containing enforcement risk.
Bill has authored the following publications and served as a keynote speaker and panelist at various forums addressing trends and significant developments in U.S. regulatory and criminal law enforcement. His publications and appearances include:
- Co-author, “Protecting Attorney-Client Privilege and Work-Product Doctrine in Internal Investigations,” American Bar Association: Pretrial Practice & Discovery Practice Points, October 26, 2020.
- Presenter, "Whistleblowing and corporate compliance programs post COVID-19" Webinar, August 13, 2020.
- Presenter, "Global Regulatory and Enforcement Developments In The New Normal" Webinar, August 4, 2020.
- Keynote speaker and Panelist, EY India Virtual Forum, “Beyond COVID-19: Re-Examining Bribery Risks and Sanctions Violations from an Indian and U.S. Perspective,” August 2020.
- Speaker, Privilege Pointers: Protecting Attorney-Client Privilege and Work Product in Internal Investigations," Webinar, August 18, 2020.
- Speaker, "Recent Trends and Developments in U.S. Enforcement Activities Affecting Brazil," Webinar, June 24, 2020.
- Co-author, “How Public Companies Can Minimize Risks Resulting From a Post-COVID-19 Focus on ESG Issues: Part I,” Corporate Counsel, May 15, 2020.
- Co-author, “How Public Companies Can Minimize Risks Resulting From a Post-COVID-19 Focus on ESG Issues: Part II,” Corporate Counsel, May 19, 2020.
- Presenter, “India in Focus: Bribery & Sanctions” Webinar, February 13, 2020.
- Presenter, “India in Focus Part II: Whistleblower Protection & Compliance Programs” Webinar, April 14, 2020.
- Presenter, “India in Focus Part III: Compliance Programs” Webinar, April 30, 2020.
- Keynote Speaker and Panelist, Evolving Regulatory Frameworks and their Impact on Business, Ernst & Young Roundtable, New Delhi, India, November 4, 2019.
- Moderator, Is Mexico moving towards a Level Playing Field? Compliance & Anti-Corruption Framework in Local and Cross-Border Business? United States – Mexico Chamber of Commerce, New York, February 28, 2019.
- Panelist and Presenter, Enforcement Trends in FCPA and Global Anticorruption Investigations and Navigating U.S. Sanctions, Mumbai Corporate Compliance Seminar: Anti-Corruption and Third-Party Risk Management, February 19, 2019.
- Moderator, US-Andean Investigations and Enforcement Cooperation, Andean Summit on Anti-corruption and Compliance, Bogota, December 2015.
- Panelist, FCPA, SEC/DOJ Joint Actions, and Other Criminal Enforcement Trends, Securities Enforcement Forum, Washington, November 2015.
- Keynote, Emerging Trends in U.S. Cross Border Investigations, U.S. Litigation Forum, Seoul, October 2015.
- Panelist, U.S. Prosecutors Discuss Compliance and Internal Controls Expectations. 9th Annual International Conference on Anticorruption, London, July 2015.